Gibraltarians will always want to remain British and cannot be wooed or pressured into changing their minds, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told a seminar in Spain yesterday.
Mr Picardo was reflecting on events in the wake of the Brexit vote and said there were opportunities as well as challenges ahead.
But he told the seminar that Spain could not force joint sovereignty on Gibraltar as the price of retaining its EU links.
Likewise, he said it would be duplicitous to suggest that Spain might advance its sovereignty aspirations by adopting a softer approach on Gibraltar.
“Anybody who knows the Gibraltarian knows that Gibraltar will never accept joint sovereignty,” Mr Picardo said.
“This is not about pressuring us more, or treating us better.”
“I don’t think Gibraltar can be wooed into accepting joint sovereignty.”
“This is about respecting us and accepting that we are British and Gibraltar is British, but that we can still be friends.”
Mr Picardo was addressing an audience of politicians, academics, students and journalists in San Roque during the second day of the University of Cádiz’s annual summer course on Gibraltar.
He sketched out the Gibraltar Government’s position in the wake of the referendum result, including its top-level contacts with the British Government and the UK’s commitment to ensure the Rock is “fully involved” in preparations for Brexit.
He also explained Gibraltar’s important contribution to the Campo economy, adding that any restrictions at the border would impact negatively on citizens either side of the frontier fence.
The Chief Minister said Gibraltar was exploring many possibilities as to how the future might unfold, highlighting the importance of the EU single market and freedom of movement to the Rock’s economy.
But offering joint sovereignty as a cure for all the challenges posed by Brexit “is not serious” and is a proposal that harks back to the days of Franco, he added.
“To pressure us now, at a difficult time for Gibraltar, just confirms to us even more all the reasons why we don’t want to be Spanish,” Mr Picardo told the seminar.
“When a friend is in trouble, you don’t take advantage of that.”
“If we are going to start a relationship with that sort of blackmail, it’s not going to prosper is it?”
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